Todd Matson, 55, Furley, Kan., is the judge of the 2015 Russell Original Review. Matson has judged about a dozen art shows over the years, and the ROAR committee invited him to judge this year’s event.
Matson was born in Wichita and grew up in Valley Center. He has been drawing since he was a child. “I liked to draw as a kid, and I never got over it,” Matson said. He took art classes in middle and high school in Valley Center and also took art classes as a student at Wichita State University.
Matson has been a full-time artist for 23 years, during which time he has focused on oil painting. He said oil paints are the artistic medium which works best for him.
He describes his subjects as “a little bit of everything, mostly landscapes.” However, he also does portraits, figures, and still-lifes. Up until two and-a-half years ago, when he set up his own studio, he had done mostly plein-air landscape painting, which means painting outdoors on scene.
During Matson’s early period as a full-time artist, his children were going through public school, and so he only occasionally traveled more than 25 miles from his home in Valley Center. However, after his youngest child grew up and moved out of the family home, Matson started driving around and doing painting. He’s been as far east in the United States as the hills in eastern Ohio. Also, he spent six years driving around in New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah.
Furthermore, Matson has travelled three times to France for two months each. Those were all working trips, during which time he made and sold paintings. He painted the scenes which he saw, such as landscapes and architecture.
Subjects which he paints in Kansas are mostly landscapes, with emphasis on capturing the effects of weather on the scenes. Matson likes to paint a variety of landscapes. He said, “Too much of anything gets boring.”
He still likes to paint outdoors; but, since two and half year ago when he set up his own studio, he doesn’t need to travel around so much.
Also, he said, “I can do some things in the studio that I just couldn’t do when I was driving around. Size is the main thing — when I was doing plein-air paintings, I was limited to a relatively small format. There are some people who can do fairly large paintings plein air in two or three hours, but it never worked for me. Having my own studio seemed like a natural step.”
He commented studio paintings have a certain look to them, and plein-air paintings have a certain look to them, and it’s fairly easy to look at a painting and tell if it was done all at once in an hour or two hours, as in plein air, or an artwork which has been painted in a studio over the course of, say, a week.
When asked to describe his painting style, Matson said, “When I’m in the middle of painting, I don’t really pay a lot of attention to technique. I’m just doing what I do. I’m just reacting to the subject matter. The paintings are what they are.” When I’m outside painting and the sun is moving, I’ve got to get the picture done or the light will change. The day looks completely different an hour later. That’s the ‘press’ — You have to get it done or you won’t have the same light you started with. It’s got to be done fast; you’ve got to get done.”